Dizziness is a common symptom for women in menopause, but researchers don’t fully understand the connection. Dizziness may be related to other changes happening during menopause, or it could be related to getting older.
Keep reading to learn more about the connection and how you can manage this symptom.
Causes for dizziness in menopause
Although researchers don’t know the exact reasons for increases in dizziness during perimenopause and menopause, they have explored some possible causes.
Hormones play an important role in balancing your blood sugar levels. Hormone changes during menopause affect how your body responds to insulin. That makes it hard for your body to keep your blood sugar stable. Changes to blood sugar levels can make you dizzy.
Middle ear changes
Changes in female hormones are known to affect your inner ears, which are critical to your sense of balance. Some women report changes in balance, sinuses, and hearing before menstruation. It’s possible that hormonal changes during menopause may also affect your ears.
Fatigue is a common symptom during menopause and can lead to dizziness. It’s hard for your body to function at its best if you feel exhausted.
According to one study, women who experience hot flashes were more prone to episodes of vertigo (a spinning sensation) than women who don’t have hot flashes.
Nervous and cardiovascular systems
Changes in your estrogen levels can affect your cardiovascular and nervous systems. You can easily get dizzy when either or both of these systems aren’t properly functioning.
People are more likely to experience vertigo as they age, more so for women than men. One study found vertigo to be just as common in women aged 40 to 59 with menopause as those without. That means that dizziness may be a symptom of aging, not menopause. More research is needed to better understand this connection and why vertigo is more common in women than men.
In some women, migraines may increase incidences of dizziness. Migraines and dizziness are two of the most common complaints among women in the early stages of menopause. The changes in hormones during perimenopause can trigger migraines. If you have a history of migraines, this may result in an increase in frequency of migraines.
Dizziness unrelated to menopause
Dizziness may be caused by things unrelated to menopause. Common causes are:
- anxiety and panic attacks, which can sometimes be linked with menopause
- inner-ear disease such as Meniere’s disease, especially if your dizziness comes with hearing loss
- allergies or sinus infection
- low blood pressure
What to expect when you see your doctor
It’s a good idea to see your doctor if you regularly feel dizzy. They’ll likely ask a lot of questions to get an accurate picture of what you’re experiencing. Try describing the feeling without using the word “dizzy.” This gives your doctor more information about the possible cause of your dizziness.
It may help if you keep a journal of what’s happening each time you get dizzy. You might notice a trend in situations that trigger dizziness.
Your doctor might check your blood pressure and pulse while you sit or stand in different positions. This is to see how your movement and stance affects your heart and blood flow.
Because so many bodily functions can be related to dizziness, your doctor might ask about other symptoms that happen alongside your dizzy spells such as earaches, dehydration, or loss of vision. Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist, cardiologist, or otolaryngologist. An otolaryngologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions of the ear, nose, and throat and is sometimes called an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT).
3 types of dizziness
When explaining your symptoms to your doctor, it’s important to describe the type of dizziness you’re experiencing:
- Disequilibrium is when you feel unsteady on your feet. It’s a problem with your balance and coordination.
- Vertigo is when you feel like the room is moving or spinning when it’s not. Recurring vertigo may be a sign of a problem with your inner ear, which controls your sense of balance.
- Being light-headed is when your head feels weightless. Breathing unnaturally or standing up too fast can make you feel light-headed or like you might faint.
Treatment will depend on what’s causing you to feel dizzy. You may be able to manage your symptoms with lifestyle changes:
- Snack between meals to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Choose snacks with protein, such as hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and yogurt, and avoid processed foods or foods high in sugar, like chips and candy bars.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. If you don’t like plain water, squeeze fresh fruit, like orange or lemon, into your water, or try herbal tea without caffeine.
- Stand up slowly after you’ve been sitting or lying down. This helps your inner ears as well as your blood slowly acclimate to standing.
- Reduce your daily stress. Ask for help when you need it and don’t feel obligated to take on more than you can handle each day. Talk with a counselor if you feel continually overwhelmed or anxious in your daily life.
Your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy if hormonal changes are the cause. However, hormone replacement therapy can increase your risk for certain health conditions, like stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer. Work with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy.
Dizziness isn’t a disease, but it’s a symptom of various conditions. Pay attention to what causes your dizziness and work with your doctor. Chances are good that you can see improvement and feel dizzy less often.